Pizza Cutter argues that Kelly Johnson has actually gotten better at bat this year, despite posting a batting line of .263/.331/.402, compared to .276/.375/.457 last year. Cutter feels that Johnson’s decline has been a matter of bad luck because he’s swinging at more appropriate times this year and hitting line drives at a higher rate. Cutter also includes some analysis of how BABIP varies over time, given batted ball rates.
I have a hard time buying this. You may be familiar with J.C. Bradbury’s PrOPS, which was introduced here a few years ago. PrOPS pins Johnson’s “expected” OPS at .746, compared to .799 last year. That declining home run rate is clearly a factor, and may be indicative that he’s just not hitting the ball as hard this year (not all line drives are hit hard).
One thing I noticed while digging into his stats is that Johnson is batting .139 when he makes contact with curveballs. That’s just awful. Perhaps he should be laying off those breaking pitches more often.